Trip Details

Location: Iowa County, Iowa

Weather: Sunny. High of 78. Low wind.

Time: 4:37 p.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch, Matt Ricklefs and “the Iowa County cat”

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Goin’ Green

Once a year now we make a quest to check on a population of Green Snakes in Iowa. On this trip we decided we would stop at a junk area that we have driven by the last few times we had gone out this way. We were lucky enough to obtain permission to park in a parking lot nearby and walk into the junk site. It was rather marshy in some spots interconnected with sand prairie. A nice little ecosystem, especially as it had some nice junk strewn through.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Flipping a large board we found a few large (about 9 inch) Prairie Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis p. arnyi).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

This was a cool find, but as we find this regularly in other areas and had a limited amount of time we took some quick shots and moved on.

Our next find was a welcome one as we do not see these as often. It was a 10 inch Plains Garter Snake (Thanmnophis radix). We took a little time with this one before releasing it.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Walking thought the dryer parts of the field we cam upon an old truck cab turned upside down. It had a nice burrow leading under and we were curious to see what might be hiding under this as it was good sized. It could have been about anything (as we will see later in this post). As it was, it turned out to be an Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene o. ornate) about 5 inches in length.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Photo by Jim Scharosch

We left him as he was and just took pictures in situ. That was all for this location. We thought with all the junk we may have turned up a Bullsnake or Fox Snake, but no luck this time. This spot definitely warrants more study.

Our spot for Green Snakes consists of a field and some junk we can turn to find them. The field did not produce anything. We did have an “odd flip” as it was when we turned a large piece of junk and a scraggly Raccoon went bolting out. That was a little unexpected, but I suppose it shouldn’t have been. Not long after, under a piece of board, was a familiar green shape and we had our Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis) for the trip.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

It was a smaller one at about 10 inches but it was in pretty good shape. There is something very cool about filling these as there are not too many snakes that are green and they really stand out when they are in full color (not in shed). At this location we also have a cat that helps us look for snakes each time so we make a point to include it in our pictures.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Our last find was a good sized and very gravid Plains Garter Snake about 15 inches long.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

We had hoped to find a few more Green Snakes, but we were still happy to have the one.

Going green and until next time…Happy cattin’.

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